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Germany sets new restrictions on glyphosate

November 6, 2018

The Environment Ministry has announced a spate of new regulations on the use of herbicides and pesticides. The tougher policy aims for a staged exit from the use of weed killer glyphosate and similar products.

Farmer spraying glyphosate Getty Images/AFP/J.-F. Monier)
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J.-F. Monier

Use of glyphosate and similar herbicides in Germany will face tougher restrictions going forward, the Environment Ministry announced on Tuesday.

From 2020, farmers will be required to set aside 10 percent of their farmland to protect biological diversity if they want to use glyphosate and similar herbicides, the ministry said.

Read more: Pesticides: Does the EU let industry write its own rules?

Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said in Berlin that her ministry would also change the approval process for pesticides and herbicides that impact the environment.

"If other, perhaps even more damaging, pesticides are used instead of glyphosate, the environment won't be any better off so we will demand new nature conservation requirements for the approval process of every pesticide that harms biodiversity," Schulze said.

Germany plans a staged exit from the use of glyphosate and environmentally detrimental herbicides and pesticides.

The national effort comes after the EU last year extended a license to use glyphosate for another five years despite resistance from some member states. After that, it may be phased out or banned. 

Read more: Glyphosate: Key points in an endless debate

The Agriculture Ministry had already suggested a ban on using the weed killer in private gardens and parks.

The Environment Ministry plans to further limit where glyphosate can be used, including in ecologically sensitive areas and in water protection zones. In addition, there will be a general rule that the product cannot be used within 20 meters of water.

Debate on the use of glyphosate has been raging for years in Europe, where environmentalists say it damages biodiversity and ecosystems.

It has also been linked to human health problems such as cancer. 

cw/rt (AFP, dpa, epd, Reuters)

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